It sensed something warm touching its head; the warmth lingered on its forehead before it diminished. Devoted Dog did not wake. Its paws lightly trembled, but its eyes remained closed. Suddenly, someone softly shook its tiny body, said...
???: ‘Sleepy fellow, my little puppy, it’s time to wake up!’
Devoted Dog casually sat up as it heard someone calling for it. It lifted up its head, gave a yawn and then opened its eyes to look around. Surrounded by nothing but dazzling white snow, it was puzzled by what had happened just now...
Devoted Dog stepped forward, a chill ran up his back from its paws as it plunged through the snow. It keenly hopped across the icy terrain, for that was its first time in snow. The biting cold did not bother Devoted Dog at all; instead, it enjoyed the snow a lot — so much so that it had not only forgotten the voice of its master who had called for it, but had also lost interest in looking for its master.
To this little creature, what laid before its eyes was a strange and unknown world that it was eager to understand. Devoted Dog roamed around on the mountain top, nibbling icy snow, touching lava rocks, yet there was so much more waiting for it to discover. Just as it was immersing itself in the pleasure of playing, it heard screams and calls for help from a short distance away...
Traveller: I... I don’t want to die. Please let me go! I will give you whatever you want!
Snowy Grome Leader: We want every slice of flesh on your body...!
Although Devoted Dog was young, its animal instincts told it that it had to save the man standing before it.
All demonic beasts must be vanquished, too. Therefore, it charged the gang to rescue the traveller.
Snowy Grome Leader: What the heck is this thing? I’m going to cook and eat you as well!
The Devoted Dog: ‘I’ll do my best to stop you!’
Although Devoted Dog was smaller than the gnomes, it was more agile. Not only were they unable to hurt it, they suffered consecutive sneak attacks diminishing morale. Weaker gnomes had long fled, while their leader only stayed behind to fight the puppy to maintain its reputation. Yet, it soon realized that it was no match for Devoted Dog and escaped as well.
Devoted Dog kept barking at the shrinking silhouette of the fleeing gnome, proudly celebrating its first victory. It walked towards the travellers, checking his wounds; the traveller squatted down and stroked it to show his gratitude.
Devoted Dog accompanied the traveller downhill to prevent another attack. After they had farewelled each other, it returned to the mountain top. From that day onwards, it had helped numerous people by either leading the lost in the right direction or stopping the attacks from gnomes.
Later, tales of Devoted Dog’s good deeds spread widely through the villages nearby. By happenstance, it saved Nello, and together, they journeyed in search of both the authenticity of myths and its own mission in life...
Nello: According to the myth and the villagers nearby, there is an interesting village here.
Nello: Only men live there... Love to wear hats... Collected many extraordinary things...
Devoted Dog: Woof!
Holding the map, Nello marked the location of the village he was looking for according to the information collected along his journey. He felt excited for locating his destination, and finally, a small village appeared before him and Devoted Dog. They stepped into the village and found that every man was wearing a hat.
Nello: We found it!
Nello and Devoted Dog were surprised and excited to have found the mythical village, but as they walked into the village they saw also women and children; the decor was more or less the same as common villages. It seemed that this was not the village they were looking for. Just as they were going to leave, they found that everyone looked depressed. Puzzled, Nello and Devoted Dog stood looking at each other, deciding to approach the villagers...
Nello: What has happened? Why do all of you look so upset?
Sad Villager: Some monsters snatched our wooden cart that we built after so much hard work!
Worried Villager: What should we do? We don’t have time and materials to build another one!
Seeing the villagers' helplessness in their eyes, Nello and Devoted Dog decided to help them take back their wooden cart.
Nello: It’s such a vast forest... Where did the monsters hide it?
Devoted Dog: ‘The smell of those monsters are growing stronger here...’
Amewarashi: This wooden cart is so large and looks awesome! Well, what should we use it for?
Tofu-kozo: Let’s use it to carry our food, or just sit on it and flaunt! How does it sound?
Nello: Oh! That’s it!
Devoted Dog: ‘Quickly give the wooden cart back!’
Amewarashi: Take it back!
Nello and Devoted Dog successfully returned the cart to the villagers, who viewed them as heroes and held a grand celebration feast in their honor.
Relieved Villager: Thank you. The village could not have returned to its past vitality without your help.
Nello: I didn’t really do much. It was actually Devoted Dog who contributed most.
Relieved Villager: We can finally present our wooden cart to our customer before Winter comes.
That night, Nello immersed himself in socializing and relaxing with the villagers to his heart’s content. He and Devoted Dog accepted the villagers’ hospitality and spent a night there. The next morning after they had breakfast, they bade the people farewell and continued their search for that interesting village.
Nello and Devoted Dog finally arrived at a metropolis, somewhere they had not been for quite a while. Strolling along the streets and shops, Nello bought many of the local specialties. As they were passing by a lane, they heard a child’s sobs. Immediately the two of them walked towards the source of the sobs. What they saw was a little boy wailing bitterly and a brown dog staying beside him, blocking two strange street teens from approaching him...
Delinquent Girl: Kid, why’re you roaming here?
Delinquent Boy: Come with us! We got something fun to play with!
Little Boy: I just want to go back to mommy...!
Devoted Dog: ‘Take your hands off the boy!’
Nello: Why’re you alone here? Where’s your parents?
Little Boy: I argued with my mommy and ran away from home. I don’t even know where I am now...
Nello: Oh, why did you argue with your mom?
Little Boy: I told mommy I want to give this letter to the old grandpa who gives out presents...
Little Boy: I was hoping that he can give me one too.
Little Boy: But mommy said that I am a fool. She even told me the old grandpa doesn’t exist!
Little Boy: And so, I quarreled with her...
Nello: I believe you.
Little Boy: Really?
Nello: The purpose of my journey is to find out if these myths are real or not!
Little Boy: Then... could you give this letter to that old grandpa for me?
Nello: I promise that I will hand this letter to him by myself if I find him.
Little Boy: Yap! Deal! Pinky swear!
Under the guidance of Devoted Dog, Nello safely took the little boy home. Before they parted, the little boy turned to look at them, waved and shouted...
Little Boy: Brother Nello! Devoted Dog! Don’t forget your promise!
Nello gazed at him and nodded resolutely, while Devoted Dog was also aware that it bore a great responsibility— to deliver the boy’s letter to the old grandpa...
Since it learnt of Nello's dream, the brown dog began following Nello and Devoted Dog. Left with no choice, they had to take it as their new companion. Nello found that the brown dog looked very kind and honest, and so he named it “Gracious”. Devoted Dog stepped forward and officially greeted it. A nose touch was enough to establish a friendship.
The more they advanced to the North, the colder the weather became. Nevertheless, they were so excited that the cold did not bother them at all. Whenever they took a rest, Nello would take out the little boy’s letter, reminding himself to fulfill the promise he made. After a long journey — travelling through numerous regions — they finally arrived at another strange little village...
Everything in the village was decorated in red while the villagers were all men wearing hats. They were busy with carrying presents onto a wooden cart. Nello, Devoted Dog and Gracious Dog looked at one another with confidence, for they knew this time they found the village mentioned in the mythic texts...
Browny: Oh dear! I have so many things to do! And the cart has just arrived...
Bogart: Quick, quick! Otherwise we can’t deliver all the gifts in time!
Nello: “The Gift-giving Old Grandpa” is not just a legend!
Browny: Give way! Don’t block our road!
Gift-giving Old Man: I wonder whether the children will like these gifts or not? Can I possibly deliver them all in a single night?
Gift-giving Old Man: I already have so many problems to deal with... Don’t bother me...!
Nello: I am sorry to disturb you. But please, take a look at this letter first.
Nello: It is written to you from a little boy who has longed to meet you...
The old man picked up the letter and read it; his expression becoming increasing joyful.
Gift-giving Old Man: Haha! Well, instead of dwelling on the pointless, it would be better to just work hard.
Gift-giving Old Man: If not, there is no way I live up to this boy’s expectation.
Gift-giving Old Man: Thank you for coming such a long way to give me this letter.
With that, the old man continued preparing gifts. Nello recorded everything he saw into his notebook so as to compile a chronicle in the future. Devoted Dog quickly bonded with the old man and villagers; it even helped to pull the cart and deliver the gifts. It realized that it could fully demonstrate its natural talent of navigating. It finally found its life purpose there.
As the sky darkened, Nello prepared to leave; yet, Devoted Dog did not come after him. He understood and encouraged it to stay behind and accomplish its mission.
Devoted Dog licked Nello’s arm to show its gratitude. Nello then turned around and walked away. After walking for some time, Nello heard the long howl of Devoted Dog from a far distance.